Oh Lord this is so easy, and tasty in that “not really made from fresh ingredients” sort of way
June 13, 2012, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Philosophical, Poultry, Quick and Easy, salad, Vegetables | Tags: ,

I live in the Deepest of the Deep South, near Savannah, Georgia. It’s not close enough to the coast to get the breeze off the Atlantic, and not near enough the mountains to enjoy a cool stream. It’s the heart of Wiregrass Country, that means flat, and cotton fields, and pine trees dripping sap on your clothes when it gets hot.  It means that sometimes the thought of opening the oven door or standing over the stove, or even lighting the grill is…well…Not The Thing To Do.  Even changing clothes and going to a nicely chilled restaurant seems too much effort, because the humidity is hovering around 90% and it feels like if you spit it would tip the balance and water would simply fall out of the air. It is too tired and dense to do something as active as rain, it is just apathetic humidity. It does rain nearly every afternoon,around 4:30, when there’s still a solid 4 hours of sunlight left to steam things up again.

Last night, I didn’t want to cook. The very idea of anything more interesting than a huge tumbler of minty iced tea caused culinary ennui.

I keep things in the pantry, canned things, stuff that I usually philosophically scorn as inferior, for just such an evening.

And I was too apathetic to take pictures, too. Surprised?

This is a recipe I got from the person real cooks love to make fun of, with her multitude of color coordinated Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers and gawdawful Tablescapes:

Sandra Lee.

There. I said it. I got a recipe from Sandra Lee and I LIKE IT.  So does everyone else in the house. But what do they know, they like frozen pizza, too.

Anyway, if I lived in Atlanta, and had ready access to The Dekalb Farmer’s Market where I could buy fresh bean sprouts and bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, I would. I am certain this salad would be far superior with such things. But I do not live in Atlanta so I make this the Sandra Lee way. And I am ok with that.

Not Really Asian Chicken Salad

The 1/2 of the rotisserie chicken left over from Sunday (or 2 cans of chicken. Sandra Lee used cans. I might compromise on some things but not on chicken), chopped

1 can each (or a generous handful if you’re fortunate enough to have access to the fresh stuff) bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, sliced water chestnuts, baby corn

1 bag (let’s call it 4 cups worth) shredded cabbage slaw mix (with the carrots in it)

1/2 cup bottled Asian Sesame Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 can of chow mein or rice noodles

a handful of toasted almond slices

Mix together the chicken and vegetables.

Mix together the dressing and mayo. taste it. If you want to, add some soy sauce, rice vinegar and a bit of sesame oil to kind of boost it up, depending on how strong the bottled dressing is.

Mix the dressing with the salad and sprinkle the noodles and almonds on top.

See there, no stove was used in the making of this salad.


Cold Remedy Chicken Soup
September 29, 2011, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Philosophical, Poultry, Quick and Easy, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

No pictures because dangummit, I HAVE A HEAD COLD. You’ll have to trust me on this one. besides,chicken soup doesn’t look like much. Oh I know, all the good food blogs use lovely pictures that make their food look flamin’ AMAZING and that’s the big part of their appeal and unless I get to crackin’ and learn how to take decent pictures I’ll never have the following of Smitten Kitchen or whatever. O STINKIN’ WELL. I have a head cold and I DON’T CARE ABOUT PICTURES.

Ok, so a long time ago, a Jewish friend of mine sent me the recipe for Jewish Penicillin and let me tell you it is delicious. It also take 24 hours and some work to make. When I get sick I don’t ahve 24 hours to sit around and wait and scoop schmaltz off the top of slow simmering soup. I just don’t want to and there’s no one else in the house who wants to either. If I get sick and whine “chicken soup” their interpretation is to open a can of Campbell’s (after driving to the store to get it because I don’t keep it in the house, How very UnAmerican) but I don’t want that. I want my own version,and naturally, even though I am feeble and weak from disease, I have to make it myself. Because they NEVER put in enough garlic or black pepper.

So here’s how I do it. First, I get some frozen chicken legs out. There are always chicken legs in the freezer because I prefer dark meat and I can get those 10 pound bags for $5 and I’m stunningly cheap.
4 chicken legs, nice and meaty.
The biggest pot I have, I reckon it’s about 2 gallons. I’ve never checked. Fill it with water and put the frozen chicken legs in.
Add a couple of BIG HEAPING spoonfuls of minced garlic. Or perhaps a whole head of garlic, smashed. I buy the minced stuff in the jar. I’m talking BIG HEAPING spoonfuls. I would even hazard to say it’s close to 1/4 cup worth.
Put in several nice long stems of fresh thyme. I reckon if you stripped the stems and measured, it would be about 2 teaspoons of thyme leaves. Or maybe 1/2 tsp of dried? I never use dried so I’m guessing there.
Likewise, several nice long stems of fresh oregano. I stripped it off the stems and chopped it. Definitely about 1/4 cup. Probably at least a tablespoon of dried.
Several generous grindings of coarse black pepper. I’m going to call it 2 teaspoons, maybe more.
Bring that all to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer until the chicken is falling off the bone. Scoop out the chicken and bones and stuff and set it aside to cool. Skim off the fat. I have one of those fancy fat skimmer things that makes it easy, or you could use a ladle or something. But get the fat out of it (blech, chicken fat…yuck)
Bring it back to a low simmer.
Add a big heaping spoonful of Better Than Boullion chicken base. It’s nice and salty.
Taste the broth to see if you need MORE SALT! I love salty stuff when I have a cold. It makes my throat feel good.
Grate up 4 carrots. Throw that in. Add some chopped parsley*.
*if you don’t grow parsley, buy it fresh from the store and cut it off the stems, then freeze it. Then you can crumble off however much you want, and it’s like having fresh, almost. It’s not garnish-worthy, but definitely cooking-worthy.
Add some form of carbohydratey sort of thing. Rice, noodles, yeah whatever. I like brown rice because it holds upwell for leftovers. Noodles turn to weird pastey stuff, so does white rice. About 1 cup of brown rice. Do you have leftover already cooked rice? Go for it, throw that in.
Shred up the cooled chicken and add that back in. (after picking out the bones and skin)
Sit on the couch, propped up with cushions and a dog at your feet, watch some Netflix Bollywood movie and sip the soup out of a mug. You own’t feel that much better right away, but everyone will get the message that you need to be left alone, at the same time being wildly impressed with your awesome culinary skills because I’m telling you the house will smell fabulous.

Tortilla roll ups
February 26, 2011, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Nibbles, Quick and Easy

World’s easiest appetizer (except for a can of nuts). You want pictures? Wot? oh well.

4 large burrito sized tortillas, plain if you’re a wimp, jalapeno-cheddar for spark. I use 2 of each for interest
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese- whichever, regular, light, nonfat. Softened to room temp.
1 little (4 oz?)can chopped black olives
1 little can chopped green chilis
1 small jar chopped pimentos
1 generous handful (you could call it a cup, if you’re precision driven) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 skimpy handful (I don’t know…1/2 a cup?) fresh cilantro, chopped fine
Mix everything together in a bowl.
Spread about a cup of the filling on each tortilla, all the way to the edge. Roll up gently, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours. Slice about 3/4 inch thick, saving the ugly ends for your Significant Other to snack on so s/he’ll stay out of the pretty ones until the Event. Put on a tray and garnish with a bit more cilantro, or diced pepper, or a sprinkling of cayenne or paprika.

If you want something quick-like for eating while watching Manos Hand of Fate, you can substitute salsa for the olives and peppers. If you balk at the idea of anything from a can, use fresh peppers and fancy-pants olives from the deli. I reckon (tho I haven’t tried this) you could bust out all Mediterranean and use feta cheese instead of cheddar, oregano instead of cilantro, kalamata olives and bell pepper, and throw in some lemon zest. Go ahead and play around with it and see what happens. Like most things I cook, it’s more a concept than rigid recipe.

Lemon garlic vinagrette dressing
February 21, 2011, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Quick and Easy, salad

I’ve been cooking, making new things and all, but never remember to have the camera until I’m nearly done with it.

Also, Spring is here, the garden is planted with salad greens and English peas and I’m all bouncing up and down, checking it twice a day to see if anything is up yet. It’s been a WHOLE WEEK since planting! Why isn’t anything up yet? When will I be able to cut fresh greens and steam some peas and have those delicious salad lunches of mesclun mix and peas and a sprinkling of queso fresco and warm lemon-garlic vinagrette? NOT SOON ENOUGH. I have salt issues, and can’t have commercial salad dressings, indeed why would I want it, with this incredibly easy to make dressing?

Lemon Garlic Vinagrette enough for 1 big lunch salad

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 few grindings black pepper, coarse
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
a couple of squeezes fresh lemon juice
Warm the olive oil in a small skillet and add the garlic. Let it sinner for a few minutes but don’t brown the garlic as that will make it bitter. Add the black pepper anytime in there. Turn off the heat, add the juice, sugar and zest. Let sit for a few minutes, stir, and pour over your salad.
This is also excellent with some chopped fresh oregano added, if you think of it.

Super Simple Christmas Day Food
December 23, 2010, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Holidays, Nibbles, Quick and Easy

I don’t cook Christmas Dinner. Christmas Eve, yes, but not Christmas Day. It’s a day for indulging in mimosas for breakfast, bloody marys for lunch, and a pick-me-up caffiene of rum and coke at 3. Then eggnog with bourbon. Oh and some food, too.

Sundried tomato and pesto dip
1-8oz block neufchatel cheese, softened
1 generous handful sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pesto from a jar
Saute the garlic in the olive oil for about 30 seconds. Then add the white wine and tomatoes, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the wine is absorbed into the tomatoes. Throw everything (including the cream cheese and pesto) into a food processor with a blade and whiz away until it’s well mixed. It ain’t pretty but it’s delicious. Serve with crackers or pita chips or something like that.

Cheese Ball
2-8oz blocks neufchatel cheese, softened
2-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 package Ranch Dressing mix
about 1-1/2 cups sliced almonds, toasted and cooled.
In a food processor, mix together the cheeses and ranch dressing mix. Dump onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Roll the ball in the toasted almonds, kind of crushing the almonds as you do it until the ball is completely covered with almonds. Wrap tightly and refrigerate to firm it up. Serve with crackers or whatever.

Incredibly easy yet surprisingly delicious Heart Attack In A Crock Pot

1-2 pound chunk of velveeta cheese stuff
1 pound bulk sausage, your favorite kind (I like Jimmy Dean), cooked and crumbled
Cut the Velveeta up in little chunks and put it in a crock pot. Turn it on high and stir occasionally until it’s all melted. Stir in the sausage. Turn the crockpot on low and serve with corn chips.

Hummus My Way
2 cans of chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup tahini (I make my own but you can buy it in jars just fine)
2 or 3 (or 4) cloves of minced garlic, depending on how close you intend to get to your spouse that night
2 green onions, sliced including the green parts
2 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)
a splash (like just a teeny bit, maybe 1/4 teaspoon or so) toasted sesame oil
Mix everything together in a food processor with a blade until it’s a smoothish paste. Taste and add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. To serve, put it in a bowl and drizzle a bit of really good olive oil over it, and dust it with some paprika. Serve with pita chips, crackers, whatever.

The hummus is my way of preserving the balance of the universe against the Heart Attack In A Crockpot. I’ll also cut up raw vegs and fruit to set out.

For cracker type things, I like to take flour tortillas and cut them into cracker sized pieces, and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they are golden brown and toasty-crisp. Using fancy tortillas (like those garlic-herb ones, or the whole wheat ones) works well and really they’re delicious as crackers.

Tamale Pie
December 21, 2010, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Poultry, Quick and Easy, Supper

once again, in spite of my best intentions, I forgot to take pictures. Woe! I’ll never be famous that way!

Tamale pie is warm and filling and delicious. It’s essentially a layer of cornmeal mush with chili on top and cheese on top of that- what’s not to love?
Typically I make a big ol’ vat of chili, feed my voracious family (for some reason the fledgelings return whenever chili is announced), and use the leftovers for tamale pie a couple of days later. however, last time I made chili (Saturday), I got all smart n stuff, and made half as much chili, thinking O, there’s just 3 of us now, and we all know the Scythian Horde will not descend upon us on a Saturday night, for they will be doing Horde-ish things at Don Corleone’s. So in my smug complacency I made a little pot of chili, just enough for 3 with leftovers enough for tamale pie. Alas, hubris happened, and The Horde descended like a flock of be-starved vultures,swooping in and eating all the chili and demanding to know why I didn’t make enough fo them to take some to their apartments for breakfast Sunday morning. I had no answer, just remorse.

Anyway, last night was chilly and damp, and even though there was no leftover chili, tamale pie was still definitely in order. There was, in the freezer, the remnants of a roasted chicken (for broth, I roasted the bird and picked off the meat for later, before using the bones and such to make the broth), and in the pantry were cans of tomatoes and navy beans, just what was needed for a white chicken chili…Joy! And thus chicken tamale pie for supper. Warm, filling, and delicious the next day in the form of leftovers. It is one of those meals that improves with a day or so of aging in the fridge.

White Chicken Chili Tamale Pie

For the chili:
About 1 pound of cooked chicken (let’s call it 2 big breasts if you want to…),shredded
2 cups chicken broth
1-14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1-14.5 oz can navy or great northern beans, undrained
1 tablespoon dried onion pieces
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted coriander (optional, I know not everyone keeps this in their cabinet)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less or not at all, depending on how spicy you like it)
Mix it all together in a pot and simmer uncovered until it’s cooked down and is nice and thick. Stir it now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick. adjust the seasoning, adding salt if you need to, or more of this spice or that…

Now you’ve made the chili, it’s time to make the mush.

4 cups water in a pot
dash of salt
Bring the salted water to a rolling boil. With a whisk, stir in
1 cup ground cornmeal. yellow or white, it doesn’t matter. Don’t use cornbread mix. Use plain cornmeal.
turn the heat down to simmer
Stir constantly with a whisk until it’s thick like porridge. This is quick, maybe 5 minutes. Guess what! you’ve made POLENTA…only not this time. this time it’s just cornmeal mush.

To assemble the tamale pie, pour the mush into a greased casserole dish. Spread the chili on top (remember, if you’ve made chili and are using leftovers, this is COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE. If you deal regularly with The Scythian Horde or perhaps Philistines, bear this in mind and make plenty). Once the chili is spread, sprinkle some cheese on top. however much you like. ! prefer co-jack, but with chicken chili, pepperjack is quite good.
Bake this at 350F until the cheese starts to brown and the whole thing is kind of bubbly…maybe 30 minutes if the mush and chili are hot when youput them together, perhaps a little longer if you’re using leftovers from the fridge.

If you want to, you could add corn to either the chili or the mush…it would be tasty!

How much is enough?
December 2, 2010, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Grains, Holidays, Nibbles, Quick and Easy

I am not even going to ask if it’s too much because there is NO SUCH THING as too much when you’re discussing baked goodies.

In my box,neatly organized and packaged in ready-to-gift ziploc bags I have the following:
4 varieties of cheese coins (smoked cheddar, cumin, blue cheese, and sharp cheddar-paprika)
3 varieties of snappy crackers (semolina-sundried tomato, basil-cracked pepper, olive oil-mixed seed)
4 varieties of savory biscotti (walnut-thyme, parmesan-black pepper, cheddar-chive, and cheddar-parmesan)
4 varieties of sweet biscotti (gingerbread, double chocolate, orange-almond, and cappuccino)
There’s 4-6 bags of each, and I have 5 people/families who will be getting some. Some people only like the savory stuff, some prefer the sweets only, some like a little of each.

I’ve been busy, when I’m feeling like baking I can churn out 3-4 double batches of each goody in a day. Then I’ll collapse for a day and not even want to LOOK in the kitchen.

Is there a particular recipe listed above that you’d like for me to put up here? most of them aren’t my own original thing, but something I aquired from another website.